Asia, as a whole, is on many traveler's bucket lists due to its unique cultures, award-winning food, and breathtaking scenery. While many tourists opt for popular destinations such as Tokyo and Beijing, Taiwan is one that's steadily picking up in interest among world travelers.

While it wasn't always this way, Taiwan is now emerging as a must-visit country, and it's pretty easy to see why. As with any country, newcomers might not be overly familiar with the customs or etiquette that exist - so here's a helpful guide to help any future Taiwan-bound traveler during their first trip.

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Transportation In Taiwan

The public transportation systems in other countries can be intimidating especially if one does not have the budget for taxis or a car rental. Luckily, there are some tips to provide first-timers in Taiwan with the know-how they'll need to navigate things such as the MRT (metro system). The metro system in Taiwan is not only incredibly clean and functional but it's also considered to be one of the most efficient transportation systems in the world. Therefore, it's worth knowing the schedule when visiting this amazing city.

Once on the train, there are some (somewhat) unspoken rules that passengers should follow:

  • Before boarding, passengers must wait behind the yellow line and allow passengers off the train before boarding; find an area that's less crowded to make room for more people getting on.
  • Avoid sitting in the dark blue chairs, as they're designated for those who are disabled or are unable to sit for long periods of time. Visitors to Taiwan can get a special sticker at the MRT desk if they need to use these seats but don't have a condition that might be obvious.
  • Embrace the silence on the MRT - many people use this system to get to and from work, and the silence allows people to relax and focus on their day (or the end of it).

Those who are planning on traveling quite a bit in Taiwan should consider getting an EasyCard. This was once used solely for public transportation such as the MRT but has now expanded in its usage; convenience stores, Youbikes, supermarkets, and parking lots now accept this form of payment as a prepaid credit card.

For those who are considering a car rental, be aware that signage throughout Taiwan - especially in the city - can be incredibly confusing to newcomers. The seven-way intersection (Zhongxiao Road) in Taipei, for example, is likely unlike anything drivers will have seen before. With signs that vary from Chinese to English, directions can become confusing quite quickly as well - stick to public transportation for the first trip.

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Food In Taiwan

Taiwan is a country that's known for its food culture and is still highly-regarded to this day. The good news is that travelers can walk into almost any local restaurant or night market and find something new, exciting, and delicious, and many dishes are pretty beginner-friendly. What visitors should be more concerned with when dining at local restaurants is the order in which they order, sit, and pay for their food, because each one is unique. The Invisible Tourist suggests paying attention to the other customers in the restaurant and following their lead.

Here are some more tips when dining in Taiwan:

  • When eating at a restaurant, never call servers or staff over - this is considered impolite behavior.
  • Some restaurants may require that diners take their own plates to a dirty dish bin or station rather than having bussers do it for customers.
  • If a server leaves the check on the table following a meal, there's a good chance that customers are required to take it up to the front themselves.
  • When eating food at a night market (or any market), it's perfectly acceptable to eat while walking or browsing - just make sure to toss any garbage into the bins at the entrance, or hold onto it until reaching the MRT station.

Additional Things To Be Aware Of

When it comes to clothing in Taiwan, the country, as a whole, is quite liberal in terms of what's appropriate. There's no special attire as many people opt for cooler clothing during the summer and slightly more layers during the winter months. When visiting temples and other sacred sites, tourists should use their own discretion - however, it's not likely they'll be side-eyed or given dirty looks if they visit a temple wearing a short skirt, shorts, or a tank top.

When walking up and down escalators, it's important for travelers to maintain the 'walk o the left, stand on the right' rule. Again, while locals are not likely to say anything to tourists, it's an easy rule to respect and will avoid any type of pile-ups or stalling while using the escalator system. When in doubt, simply watch the people in the front!

As is common in many cities throughout the region, convenience stores have practically everything a traveler could need. From food to phone chargers, most 7/11s and Familymarts are open 24/7 for any and all last-minute needs.

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